8 shows in T˘ky˘ (Kabukiza, National Theatre, Asakusa K˘kaid˘, Shinbashi Enbuj˘, Zenshinza Gekij˘), 2 in ďsaka (Sh˘chikuza) and 1 in Ky˘to (Minamiza)!

  • Nakamura Kichiemon, Onoe Kikugor˘, Nakamura Kanzabur˘, Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Nakamura Shibajaku, Nakamura Tomijűr˘, Nakamura Baigyoku and Nakamura Kaishun perform at the Kabukiza!
  • Sakata T˘jűr˘, Kataoka Nizaemon, Kataoka Gat˘, Nakamura Kanjaku, Nakamura Senjaku, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Ichikawa Danshir˘ and Band˘ Takesabur˘ perform at the Sh˘chikuza!
  • Ichikawa Danjűr˘, Nakamura Shikan, Band˘ Mitsugor˘, Nakamura Hashinosuke and Nakamura Fukusuke perform at the National Theatre!
  • Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Ichikawa Sadanji and the Omodakaya guild perform at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘!
  • The Zenshinza troupe perform at the Minamiza and at the Zenshinza Gekij˘!
  • Lots of young talented actors at the Asakusa K˘kaid˘!
  • Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 ~ 27 January 2009 (Kotobuki Hatsuharu ďkabuki)
    Kabukiza Sayonara K˘en

    Iwau Haru Shiki Sanbas˘

    Heike Nyogo no Shima (Shunkan)

    Sato Moy˘ Azami no Ironui (Izayoi Seishin)

    Sagi Musume


    Kotobuki Soga no Taimen

    Shunky˘ Kagami Jishi

    Iwashi Uri Koi no Hikiami


    Nakamura Kichiemon, Onoe Kikugor˘, Nakamura Kanzabur˘, Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Nakamura Shibajaku, Nakamura Tomijűr˘, Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Kaishun, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Onoe Kikunosuke, Band˘ Hikosabur˘, Onoe Sh˘roku, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Kash˘, Nakamura T˘z˘, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Nakamura Baishi


    January 2009 is an important month for the Kabukiza, which starts its series of 16 Kabukiza Sayonara K˘en (Kabukiza Farewell Performances), which will be held up to April 2010. The year starts with an amazing program, full of all-times favourites:

  • Shiki Sanbas˘: Okina is the oldest ritual in the theater. This Kabuki version shows Okina, an old man who symbolizes eternal youth, his attendant Senzai and the vigorous Sanbas˘, who perform dances solemnly for good fortune. Sanbas˘ dances vigorously, stamping and shaking bells, praying for agricultural fertility and prosperity for all. This dances features Nakamura Baigyoku and Nakamura Tomijűr˘ in the roles of Sanbas˘ and Okina. It also features two Senzai, Onoe Kikunosuke and Onoe Sh˘roku.
  • Shunkan: the priest Shunkan (Matsumoto K˘shir˘) has been exiled to Devil's Island for plotting against the dictator Kiyomori. A pardon is given to his fellow conspirators, but Shunkan is only saved by an additional pardon given by Kiyomori's compassionate son. Even so, he gives up his place on the boat to freedom so his companion's new wife can accompany her husband back to the capital. The boat leaves and Shunkan is left watching is disappear in the distance, knowing he will be left on the island forever. Featuring Band˘ Hikosabur˘ as the evil emissary Senoo and Nakamura Baigyoku as the merciful envoy Tanzaemon. With Nakamura Shibajaku as the island girl Chidori and Ichikawa Somegor˘ as Naritsune, Shunkan's fellow exile who has fallen in love with her.
  • Izayoi Seishin: love suicides are common in Kabuki, but usually as the conclusion of a play, a tragic end to a love that cannot be. The playwright Kawatake Mokuami gave this play an ironic turn by putting the love suicide at the very beginning of the play. The priest Seishin (Onoe Kikugor˘) and the courtesan Izayoi (Nakamura Tokiz˘) are ostracized for having an affair. Seishin decides to forget her and concentrate on his religious training. Before he can leave, though, Izayoi convinces him to die with her. They throw themselves into a river, but both survive. Unaware that Izayoi is still alive and given the chance to start again, Seishin gives up his religious vows and turns to a life of crime. With Nakamura Kichiemon as the poet Hakuren, in reality the thief ďdera Sh˘bŕ.
  • Sagi Musume: one of the most famous dances in Kabuki, this figure is familiar through pictures and Japanese dolls. A beautiful young woman all in white appears in the snowy landscape. She dances lightly of love, but then reveals that she is the spirit of a bird, a magnificent heron that struggles wounded through a snowstorm. Starring onnagata superstar Band˘ Tamasabur˘ in a dance that he has made famous through performances around the world.
  • Soga no Taimen: this is one of the oldest and most classical of all Kabuki plays. In the Edo period, every January, plays appeared about the vendetta carried out by the Soga brothers Jűr˘ and Gor˘ after eighteen years of hardship. In "Soga no Taimen" the brothers confront Kud˘ Suketsune, the man responsible for their father's death. More ceremony than play, it features each of the important Kabuki character types, including the bombastic aragoto style of Gor˘ and the soft wagoto style of Jűr˘. This month features a cast headed by Matsumoto K˘shir˘ as Kud˘ and some of the most popular young stars in Kabuki with Nakamura Kichiemon as Gor˘ and Onoe Kikugor˘ as Jűr˘.
  • Kagami Jishi: one of the most important dances for onnagata female role specialists and is an audience favorite. The maidservant Yayoi performs an auspicious lion dance for the Sh˘gun in his opulent palace, but she gradually finds herself under the control of the lion spirit. In the second half of the dance, the lion spirit itself appears and performs its crazed dance among peonies and fluttering butterflies. Starring Nakamura Kanzabur˘ as both Yayoi and the spirit of the lion.
  • Iwashi Uri:
    (The Princess and the Sardine Seller)
    A modern play by novelist Mishima Yukio, this recreates the leisurely, comic atmosphere of early 18th century Kabuki. A sardine seller famous for his vigorous chanting falls in love with a beautiful courtesan and disguises himself as a wealthy patron, only to discover that she is actually a princess that ran away from her family after falling in love with the call of a sardine seller. Starring Nakamura Kanzabur˘ as the sardine seller and Band˘ Tamasabur˘ as the princess.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Sh˘chikuza (ďsaka)
    Dates 3 ~ 27 January 2009 (Kotobuki Hatsuharu ďkabuki)

    Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura
    (Torii Mae)

    R˘ben Sugi no Yurai (Nigatsud˘)

    Kuruwa Bunsh˘ (Yoshidaya)



    Reigen Kameyama Hoko
    (Kameyama no Adauchi)


    Sakata T˘jűr˘, Kataoka Nizaemon, Kataoka Gat˘, Nakamura Kanjaku, Nakamura Senjaku, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Ichikawa Danshir˘, Band˘ Takesabur˘, Kataoka Ainosuke, Kataoka Takatar˘, Kataoka Shinnosuke, Band˘ Shinsha, Kamimura Kichiya


  • Torii Mae:
    (In Front of the Fushimi Inari Shrine)
    Yoshitsune (Kataoka Ainosuke) is forced to flee from the troops sent by his brother Yoritomo. The trip will be hard and he decides that he must leave behind his lover Shizuka Gozen (Kataoka Takatar˘), despite her passionate pleas to remain with him. As a reminder of himself, he presents her with a precious hand drum that he had received from the emperor. Yoshitsune's retainer Tadanobu (Nakamura Kanjaku) rescues Shizuka from Yoritomo's troops and Yoshitsune decides to leave her in his care.
  • R˘ben Sugi no Yurai: this play deals with the legendary origins of the priest R˘ben, one of the founders of the great T˘daiji temple in Nara. Once as a farm woman was watching over her child, he was stolen away by a giant bird. She wandered for years looking for him and was driven mad by her desperate search. In the scene that will be presented, finally she comes to T˘daiji where the head priest considers a certain tree very precious since that is where he was found as a child. A Buddhist priest took care of him and now he has risen to this great status. When she realizes that R˘ben is none other than her long lost child, the mother recovers her senses and there is a happy reunion. Starring Kataoka Hidetar˘ as the mother and Kataoka Gat˘ as R˘ben.
  • Yoshidaya: the roots of this play go back to the earliest days of Kabuki. Izaemon, the son of a wealthy family, has been disowned for loving a courtesan and now has nothing but a paper kimono. This role is a classic example of the wagoto or soft style of acting that is one of the representative acting styles of the Kansai region. Nakamura Senjaku stars as Izaemon, a role that is a specialty of his family's Kansai acting style. Featuring his father, the Living National Treasure Sakata T˘jűr˘, as the courtesan ďgiya Yűgiri (Izaemon's lover), Ichikawa Danshir˘ and Band˘ Takesabur˘ as the proprietor and proprietress of the Yoshidaya teahouse.
  • Omatsuri: Kataoka Nizaemon as a gallant fireman boss at a festival telling a rueful tale of failure in love and showing the vigorous work songs of firefighters. Featuring his son Kataoka Takatar˘ in the role of a geisha.
  • Kameyama no Adauchi:
    (The Blood Revenge at Kameyama)
    The January evening program at the Sh˘chikuza is a full-length revival of a play first performed in 1822 written by Tsuruya Nanboku IV (1755~1829), who is famous for his plays with sex, ghosts and grotesque humor. The play is based on the story of an actual vendetta, which was a favorite theme of Nanboku's. He dramatized the story four separate times. The play shows the villain Fujita Mizuemon and his fierce struggle with those who are trying to kill him to avenge the death of a man he killed in a rivalry over fighting skills. In scene after scene, there is a tense struggle to see who will kill whom. But the play is also filled with generous doses of Nanboku's black humor. The scene shifts abruptly from the raucous noise and laughter of the pleasure quarters to a grim scene in a crematory where Mizuemon attempts to escape his pursuers by disguising himself as a corpse and hiding in a casket. There is the thrill of seeing the actor play Mizuemon instantly change to his rival Hachirobŕ. Then there is the confusion among several caskets, ending with the sudden appearance of the living Mizuemon from the casket in the midst of the flames. Starring Kataoka Nizaemon in the roles of Fujita Mizuemon and Hachirobŕ. Featuring Sakata T˘jűr˘ as a Manzai performer (a short auspicious dance entitled "Haru Kotobuki Matsu no Mazai" is added in the middle of the play), Kataoka Gat˘ as Mizuemon's father Fujita Bokuan, Kataoka Hidetar˘ as Teirin and Tanbaya Oriki, Ichikawa Danshir˘ as ďgishi Tanomo, Nakamura Senjaku as the courtesan Otsuma, Nakamura Kanjaku as Kakezuka Kanbei, Kataoka Ainosuke as Ishii Gennoj˘ and Sodesuke, Kataoka Takatar˘ as Gennoj˘'s wife Omatsu and Kataoka Shinnosuke as Ishii Hy˘suke.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 ~ 27 January 2009 (Hatsuharu ďkabuki)


    Tokaeri no Matsu

    Ikiji Kurabe Hadena Nakach˘


    Ichikawa Danjűr˘, Nakamura Shikan, Band˘ Mitsugor˘, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Fukusuke


    This new year program starts with the rare revival of "Z˘hiki", a bombastic play in the aragoto style which belongs to the Kabuki Jűhachiban.

  • Z˘hiki: in aragoto, the masculine rough style of acting which is typical to the Ichikawa Danjűr˘ line of actors, there is an acting style called Hikiaigoto in which two brave men compete their power by pulling a thing each other. "Z˘hiki" is a drama which belongs to hikiaigoto and at the same time, is one of the Eighteen Favorite Plays of the Ichikawa Family, a selection of eighteen plays which Ichikawa Ebiz˘ V (Danjűr˘ VII) selected as specialty of his line of actors. In this play, a big, powerful hero fights against a wicked man and they both pull at an elephant. The wish of driving away an evil spirit is considered to be realized by activity of the hero in aragoto. It is said that to see it brings happiness for a year, therefore perfect for a program in January. Ichikawa Danjűr˘ comes back to stage after half a year of absence and plays the role for the first time which he has wished to play.
  • Tokaeri no Matsu: pine tree is thought to be a happy tree in Japan and has an alias tokaeri (which means "to repeat ten times") after a legend that it blooms once in 100 years that is ten times in 1000 years. This is a koto music piece originally celebrating the enthronement of the Sh˘wa Emperor in 1928, which has an elegant melody, words of various kinds of pine trees and whose title has a meaning to celebrate longevity. Celebrating the beginning of the 20th year from the enthronement of the present Emperor (the Heisei Emperor), it will be performed for the first time as Kabuki dance by Living National Treasure Nakamura Shikan, koto by top rate koto musician Yamase Sh˘in with new direction and arrangement.
  • Ikiji Kurabe Hadena Nakach˘: this work describes how Yogor˘, the boss of steeplejacks in Yamazaki-ch˘ saves his master Komeya Ch˘kichi from difficult situation with the help of Namp˘ Yohei, a samurai in Shimousa Yawata, and how both Yohei and Yogor˘ try to keep courtesan Miyako to their own. Authored by Katsu Hy˘z˘ (later, Tsuruya Nanboku IV) and Segawa Jok˘ II, it was well received in premiere in the 1st lunar month of 1802. A precious masterpiece which has never been published will be arranged after a playbook in handwriting. Starring Band˘ Mitsugor˘, Nakamura Fukusuke and Nakamura Hashinosuke.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Shinbashi Enbuj˘ (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 ~ 27 January 2009 (Hatsuharu Hanagata Kabuki)

    Ninin Sanbas˘


    Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura

  • Ko-no-Mi
  • Kokingo Uchijini
  • Sushiya
  • Omatsuri


    Nanatsu Men

    Koi Bikyaku Yamato ďrai (Fűin Giri)

    Benten Musume Meo no Shiranami

  • Hamamatsuya
  • Kuramae
  • Inasegawa Seizoroi
  • Gokurakuji Yane Rippuku
  • Sanmon
  • Namerigawa Dobashi
  • Casting

    Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Ichikawa Ukon, Nakamura Shid˘, Ichikawa Sadanji, Ichikawa Monnosuke, Ichikawa Danjir˘, Ichikawa Emisabur˘, Ichikawa Emiya, Ichikawa Shun'en, Ichikawa En'ya, Ichikawa Juen


    Second edition of a New Year Program at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘ starring the heir of the Naritaya guild, Ichikawa Ebiz˘. This month he will perform major roles like Igami no Gonta and Benten Koz˘ in "Sushiya" and "Shiranami Gonin Otoko". He will also revive the drama "Nanatsu Men", do a nirami no mie during the k˘j˘, perform a fireman boss role in the short dance "Omatsuri" and play a second role, Aoto Saemon Fujitsuna, in the last scene of "Shiranami Gonin Otoko". Quite a tough challenge for such a dynamic actor!

    Asakusa K˘kaid˘ (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 ~ 27 January 2009 (Hatsuharu Hanagata Kabuki)

    Kiichi H˘gen Sanryaku no Maki
    (Ichij˘ ďkura Monogatari)



    Ippon Gatana Dohy˘ Iri

    Ky˘ganoko Musume D˘j˘ji


    Ichikawa Kamejir˘, Ichikawa Omez˘, Nakamura Kantar˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Nakamura Kikaku, Onoe Matsuya


    The yearly show for young promising actors at the Asakusa K˘kaid˘ in Asakusa, a lively and colorful neighboorhood that keeps the scent of old Edo.

  • Ichij˘ ďkura Monogatari: the world is ruled by Taira no Kiyomori, the leader of the Heike clan. Tokiwa Gozen, the widow of the head of the defeated Genji clan and mother of Yoritomo and Yoshitsune, the future leaders of the clan, has become the mistress of the dictator Kiyomori, then the wife of Lord ďkura, a seemingly simple-minded fool who spends all his time watching pretty women dance. Outraged members of the Genji clan sneak into Lord ďkura's mansion only to discover that Tokiwa Gozen's immorality and Lord ďkura's idiocy are a guise, the only way to survive in a world ruled by the enemy. This performance stars Ichikawa Kamejir˘ as Lord ďkura, Nakamura Shichinosuke as Tokiwa Gozen, Nakamura Kantar˘ as Yoshioka Kijir˘ and Onoe Matsuya as Yoshioka's wife Oky˘.
  • Tsuchi-gumo: a dance play adapted from the classical theatre. The samurai Lord Minamoto Raik˘ is famous in legend for ridding Ky˘to of demons. While Raik˘ is confined to bed with illness, a priest (Nakamura Kantar˘) from a prominent temple comes to pray for his health. In fact, the priest is actually the spirit of the earth spider which has caused Raik˘'s illness in the first place and hopes to destroy him. The spider's plan to kill Raik˘ is defeated by his retainers (the famous shitenn˘) in an exciting fight. Featuring Onoe Matsuya as Raik˘.
  • Ippon Gatana Dohy˘ Iri: this is a modern play by Hasegawa Shin and shows Komagata Mohŕ (Nakamura Kantar˘), a starving, would-be sum˘ wrestler. He encounters a courtesan Otsuta (Ichikawa Kamejir˘), who gives him her purse and hair ornaments and makes him promise to become a champion sum˘ wrestler. In turn, she promises to go see him make his ceremonial entry into the ring. But ten years later, Mohŕ has become a gangster instead. Now a powerful fighter, he rescues Otsuta and her family. Ironically, this has become the only way that he can repay her kindness and the shameful form that his entry into the ring has taken.
  • Musume D˘j˘ji: a beautiful young woman dances under cherry blossoms at a dedication ceremony for a temple bell. She dances the many aspects of a woman in love, but is actually the spirit of a serpent, driven to destroy the bell out of jealousy. In addition to being the most famous of all Kabuki dances, "Musume D˘j˘ji" is considered to be the pinnacle of the art of the onnagata. The role of the shiraby˘shi is played by Nakamura Shichinosuke.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Minamiza (Ky˘to)
    Dates 3 ~ 22 January 2009 (Zenshinza K˘en)

    Izumo no Okuni


    Arashi Keishi, Segawa Kikunoj˘, Yamazaki Tatsusabur˘


    This is not a Kabuki drama but a modern play about the legendary woman, who created Kabuki. The script is based on the eponymous novel, who was written by Ariyoshi Sawako. This novel was translated in English by James R. Brandon and published in 1994 under the title "The kabuki dancer". the role of Okuni is not performed by an onnagata but the Zenshinza actress Tsumakura Kazuko.

    Zenshinza Gekij˘ (Kichij˘ji)
    Dates 3 ~ 12 January 2009

    Futatsu Ch˘ch˘ Yuki no Kowakare


    Kawarasaki Kunitar˘, Fujikawa Yanosuke, Arashi Hironari, Anegawa Shinnosuke


    "Futatsu Ch˘ch˘ Yuki no Kowakare" was a Rakugo story created by San'yűtei Ench˘, the father of "Botan D˘r˘", "Bunshichi Mottoi" or "Shibahama no Kawazaifu". It is adapted to the stage for the first time this month. The play is divided into 3 acts; the first act is a Rakugo performance done by Hayashiya Sh˘jaku. The second and third act are Kabuki. It is about Ch˘kichi, the son of Yaoya Ch˘bŕ, who was placed with the Yamazakiya shop. Along with another servant named Ch˘gor˘, he has the bad habit to steal things. The bant˘ Gonkur˘, who is aware of these petty thefts, prefer to hold his tongue and not report it to the master. Unfortunately for all, Yogor˘, the young heir of the Yamazakiya is desperately in needs of money for the redemption of the courtesan Azuma. The huge sum (100 ry˘) is stolen within the Yamazakiya shop and Gonkur˘ accuses Ch˘kichi, who had no other choice than killing the bant˘ and run away to Northern Japan. The third act is about the return of Ch˘kichi in Edo and his meeting with his parents Ch˘bŕ and Omitsu, which explains the second part of the title Yuki no Kowakare, "separation with a child in the snow". The first part of this title, Futatsu Ch˘ch˘, is an allusion to the famous play "Futatsu Ch˘ch˘ Kuruwa Nikki", which was about the two sum˘tori Ch˘gor˘ and Ch˘kichi. Futatsu Ch˘ch˘ means in fact "the Two Ch˘", Ch˘gor˘ and Ch˘kichi. The courtesan Azuma and her lover Yamazakiya Yogor˘ are also two roles which belong to the "Futatsu Ch˘ch˘ Kuruwa Nikki" world. Featuring Fujikawa Yanosuke (Ch˘bŕ, Gonkur˘), Arashi Hironari (Ch˘kichi) and Kawarasaki Kunitar˘ (Yamazakiya Yogor˘, Azuma, Omitsu).

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